Appeals Court Reverses Vioxx Award

As reported in the AJC, last Wednesday a Texas appeals court overturned a multimillion-dollar verdict against Merck & Co. in a case involving the painkiller Vioxx.

In 2006, a Texas jury awarded the widow of 71-year-old Leonel Garza $32 million for his wrongful death. However that verdict was later reduced to $7.75 million under Texas laws capping injury damages.

Three weeks ago, the Texas Court of Appeals overturned the verdict, ruling that the plaintiff’s family failed to provide evidence that Mr. Garza’s heart disease could not have caused the heart attack that killed him in 2001. Mr. Garza died of a heart attack after taking Vioxx for only a few weeks.

During the trial, lawyers for the pharmaceutical firm argued that Garza's heart attack was the result of chronic heart disease.

Merck pulled the painkiller off the market in 2004, after the company's internal research showed the painkiller doubled risk of heart attacks and strokes. That action triggered many lawsuits against Merck, which has a $4.85 billion settlement pending. If you have a question about a harmful drug, email us at the Law Offices of Michael L. Neff.